Novartis’ Kymriah partner doubling capacity on global viral vector demand

Oxford BioMedica – the sole manufacturer of the lentiviral vector for CAR-T Kymriah – will up capacity with a fourth facility to support future platform and pipeline deals.

Oxford BioMedica, has signed a fifteen year lease on a new facility at its site in Oxford, UK-based, which when operational will more than double the firm’s bioprocessing capacity.

The 7,800m2 facility – the fourth plant at the site – will contain four GMP clean room suites and two fill and finish suites for lentiviral vector production and will help feed demand for a market the firm expects to grow to $800 million by 2026.

Analysts from Jefferies Equity Research said the facility “should help support future platform and pipeline deals,” something the firm is seeking.

Oxford BioMedica makes lentiviral vectors for Novartis and others, Image: iStock/metamorworks

“Initial plans are to fit-out around half, providing future flexibility for further expansion. Oxford BioMedica has completed detailed designs, and contractors are in place to commence work imminently, with the ambitious aim to be on-line 1Q20E,” Jefferies said in a note.

According to the analysts, the expansion is supported by £19.6 million ($26 million) of net proceeds from a fundraise and employee share option exercised in March.

LentiVector platform and Kymriah

The company’s lentiviral-based gene delivery system, LentiVector, produces viral vectors used in genetically modifying T-cells extracted from a patient, which target cancer cells once administered back into the patient.

According to Oxford BioMedica, the tech overcomes safety and delivery challenges associated with earlier generation of viral vectors, and offers therapeutic payloads of up to 9kb (Kilo-base pairs), permanent modification of dividing and non-dividing cells, and no pre-existing immunity

It is also the tech used by Novartis for its chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T-cell product Kymriah (tisagenlecleucel), approved in the US in August as a treatment for B-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia.

Novartis contracted Oxford BioMedica in July 2017 for the commercial and clinical supply of lentiviral vectors used to generate Kymriah and other undisclosed CAR-T products. Under terms of the deal, Oxford BioMedica could receive more than $100 million from Novartis.

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